When I was a kid I remember there were places I was told not to go either by a neighbor, a babysitter, or my mom. These wonderfully off-limit places included behind the barn, the upper loft in the barn, the attic, and the basement.
The attic. I think the attic in the farm house I grew up in was always a little scary and mysterious. There was a long, creaking stairway leading up into a dark void. Along both sides of the narrow stairway were empty Mason jars for canning fruits/vegetables. In addition, in the farm house I knew the story of my cousin… who had been in the attic and missed stepping on a floor beam, which sent him falling through the ceiling. At the age of six we moved from the farmhouse… before I was big enough and brave enough to explore the foreign world known as the attic.
But I always wondered what was in that attic. I was too scared as a kid to explore it on my own because it was dark… and I was afraid of getting in trouble.
Flash forward 30 something years. I am an adult now. That means that adventures that were once off-limits to me as a child are now within the realm of possibility. If only I had the “Indiana Jones” hat. Anyway, our landlord said that my wife and I could explore the attic in the house if we wanted. The access hatch to the attic had been painted over before we moved in and the landlord had never explored the attic. Our landlord lives in a different state but was curious about the attic’s contents. So she gave my wife and I permission to explore the attic if we wanted.
My wife and I talked about it from time to time but something else always came up. Well this weekend there was nothing happening in town that really interested us… and we remembered the attic. So Friday night we discussed our weekend plans, and we set a date for Saturday night.
A treasure hunting date. Yes, we committed to the attic expedition.
What would we find up there? Maybe it would be luggage from the 1940s containing stolen bank loot? Or maybe a lost Picasso? Or perhaps a stolen draft of the U.S. Constitution? The mind can go wild with possibilities if you still have a child-like wonder about the world. Silver tea sets? Maybe something less interesting like antique toys from the 1950s? There are all kinds of possible treasures to be found. Our plan was to share it with the landlord… you know, after negotiating a finder’s fee.
As a child I sometimes wondered if I would find monsters in the attic. Or ghosts. Maybe giant spiders. I hate spiders… always have. If a pirate wanted to keep his stolen loot safe from me all he would need to do is plant a couple fake spiders on it and I wouldn’t bother it.
Well, Saturday arrived. And my wife and I set out on our treasure hunting expedition. I photographed the expedition for historical posterity. After all if we found a stack of stolen CIA documents that identified who shot JFK, that kind of discovery would deserve chronicling.
First, break the “painted seal” of the attic. My wife had actually poked it with a broom handle to break the seal a few months ago… but we did not explore it at that time.
Next we set up the ladder.
And then we removed the hatchway into the attic… revealing a whole new world.
I am a liberal-minded man. I believe women can do everything a man can do. So I allowed my wife to explore the attic first as a show of respecting her as an equal. Yes I realize this meant she could have gotten credit for a historical discovery. But I was secure with that. My chivalry had nothing to do with the possibility of spiders in the attic. Well, mostly it didn’t. Anyway…
What did we find?
… and bags…
and more bags…
… filled to the brim with…
… unused insulation…
Seriously? Ugh. At least it wasn’t asbestos.
But it was still a fun Saturday afternoon. Actually the most fun was the night before when we were anticipating and wondering “what will we find in the attic?”
One thing I am slowly learning as an adult is to approach life with more of a child-like anticipation. This is different from an adult acting like a child. Approaching life with a child-like anticipation means that even simple things can be an enjoyable adventure… and that anything is possible. I think many people get stuck in a rut and become “old” and jaded at an incredibly young age. Thankfully that has not happened to me yet.
Some people can go to Hawaii and feel overwhelmed by the burden of being in Hawaii... they worry about a long list of things they need to do now and when they get home because they are still working even though they are on “vacation.” These people miss out on the wonder and beauty of Hawaii. In contrast, my wife and I can have a fun adventure if we are in Ohio, Kentucky, Colorado… the Philippines… or exploring a dusty attic on a Saturday afternoon.
Are you the type of person who can feel burdened in Hawaii? Do you have a child-like excitement about the world no matter what you are doing?
What places did you want to explore as a child that you imagined could have been an amazing adventure? Did you go on that adventure? Why or why not?